How to Repair a Large Format Shutter

Written by alexander rudinski
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How to Repair a Large Format Shutter
Large-format camera shutters are mounted within the camera's lenses. (Large Format View Camera image by Fotoskat from

Most familiar now as an anachronistic style of camera, large-format cameras produce film negatives or positives that are at least four by five inches. Once the mainstay of the professional studio photographer, these cameras are now relegated to art photography when a very sharp, detailed film-based image is required. Due to the massive film size associated with these cameras, they do not employ the standard focal-plane shutter used in 35-mm film cameras. Instead, the shutter is part of the camera lens, meaning that each large-format camera lens contains its own shutter. Proper functioning and maintenance of these shutters is essential.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Cotton swab
  • Lighter fluid
  • Lubricant

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  1. 1

    Check the shutter's functioning. At the most basic level, this is done by looking through the lens and triggering it to make sure the shutter opens and closes. To determine if the shutter is operating at the listed speeds, you will need to make a series of test exposures and check for the appropriate density.

  2. 2

    Clean the shutter leaves using a cotton swab and lighter fluid. These metal plates interface with one another to create the camera's shutter, and dirt or grime on one of the plates, called leaves, can disrupt the shutter's operation.

  3. 3

    Replace any bent or overly worn shutter leaves by removing the problem component and installing a new part. Deconstructing the lens shutter is a complex job that is best attempted by a professional, so do not attempt this unless you have considerable camera repair experience.

  4. 4

    Lubricate the shutter blades with camera shutter lubricant and a cotton swab.

  5. 5

    Adjust the timing of the shutter, if necessary. This requires careful minute adjustments to the lens, so only attempt this if you have a repair manual for your lens and considerable camera repair experience.

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